Thursday, September 05, 2013

Something awful has happened that could be wonderful

If you've seen me ranting on Facebook or Twitter over the past couple of days you know that something unfortunate has happened at the girls' high school. In a nutshell, our beloved musical director has left to go elsewhere, leaving the performing arts department – the reason we went to the school in the first place – in shambles. As with most problems in this school district it had to do with money, or I should say a lack of it. And as with most things having to do with performing and the arts, there is lots of drama, some ego and hurt feelings involved, too. Throw in some sex and booze and you'd swear you were watching a miniseries on Showtime!

I'm not exactly sure what went down – I'm still trying to find out details but they seem to be hard to come by. There is secrecy and rumors and finger pointing, and lots of things being said that are prefaced with, "You didn't hear this from me, but..." (For some reason everyone has mistaken me for someone that can keep a secret, but I'm doing good so far.)

(And I'm not going to get into the main issue here, how THE ARTS ARE SO UNDERFUNDED, UNAPPRECIATED AND DEVALUED in this school district. How in education in general, sports are lauded and showered with money while ARTS PROGRAMS ARE ALLOWED TO WITHER AND DIE. No, I'm not going to get into it here, that's what ALL CAPS are for.)

But the bottom line is, the real victims here are the kids. This performing arts department is a shining beacon for a lot of students – many of them from the inner city – and to see it dying before our eyes is truly heartbreaking. And that is just what they are doing – destroying a program that has brought joy to many, won awards and inspired kids to pursue the arts. We even had Morrissey play our auditorium for crying out loud! Little did we know that when he sang, "You Have Killed Me" it would prove to be prophetic.

This has such personal implications for us, too. It's Kira's senior year, and this has put a damper on things to say the least. She tried for two years to get a spot in the glee club and she finally got in – as did Kiyomi – only to see the whole group crumble before they've even had their first performance.

And it was going to be a good one, too. They were set to perform at the opening of the newly remodeled Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. I wished the music director had stayed on just long enough to give the kids this opportunity, but it's not going to happen. Honestly, if I could carry a tune and had any idea how to coach a high school choir, I would do it myself. *cue telepathic waves to Will Schuester, who is a fictional TV character but would be perfect nonetheless*

Many of the kids are being enticed to follow the music director to his new position at the other school. And it was tempting at first – the school is new, shiny, and has a gorgeous campus. But we let the girls make their own decision, and Kira decided she didn't want to disrupt her senior year, especially since we are already a month into the new semester. Kiyomi is only slightly toying with the idea of going to a new school altogether, one that has a film department (and a greater abundance of hot guys.)

And luckily, there are teachers – excellent teachers – that have decided to stay on and are vowing to try and keep the program alive. They deserve our faith and support, now, and I hope that everyone remaining will stand by them. It will be an uphill battle for sure, as the drumbeat of, "We have no money," is loud and constant.

Who knows – maybe the person that comes in to run the department will be amazing (or hot, even!) Maybe the change up will create new, better opportunities for the kids that decide to stay. Maybe the absence of the musicals will allow the other productions to shine. Maybe some celebrity or benefactor will realize that the legacy of the legendary Hollywood High School is in jeopardy and will write a huge check that'll solve all of our problems. Hey, a girl can dream.

But here's what we're working on now: Trying to give our girls some optimism that sometimes change is good. That there is strength through adversity. That nothing ever stays the same, and when life gives you lemons you get your bad self busy making lemonade. (And for the adults, that a little vodka in that lemonade might take your mind off of school issues for a minute or so.)

What we are hoping is that the kids will band together and carry on the legacy of the school that has given them so much. That they'll realize they can thrive in spite of this setback, and get inspired to create something that shows just how resilient they are. It could be magical. Wonderful, even.

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